Skip to main content

Bergdahl, Boko Haram and Benghazi

By Newt Gingrich
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says the problems with the Bergdahl case are part of a larger pattern
  • He links the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram and deaths in Benghazi to soldier's release
  • He calls the swap for five prisoners a surrender, not a negotiation

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Ali Meshkin is a researcher for Gingrich. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

(CNN) -- The third "B" in the collapse of our national security system and the State Department hit this week.

The release of five very high-value terrorist leaders as a swap for one U.S. serviceman was the third strike against the Obama administration's policy of defeat, dishonesty and self-delusion.

When Congress starts investigating the Bergdahl case it must broaden the analysis to look at the common patterns which connect it to the administration's approach on two other national security questions: Boko Haram and Benghazi.

The first was Hillary Clinton's State Department's decision from 2011 to 2013 to reject requests by the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and many congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle to list Nigeria's Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Well before Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria in April, the State Department's arguments for keeping the Nigerian extremist group off the list were almost exactly the arguments used to distort what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, and to justify releasing five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban leaders.

Boko Haram, we were told, was a local organization without aspirations to international terrorism. This assessment required us to ignore the fact that Boko Haram's first base camp in northern Nigeria was called "Afghanistan" in honor of the Taliban. It required us to ignore the fact that the group burned Christian churches on Christmas Day. It required us to ignore the fact that members of Boko Haram went to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for training. None of this, self-delusional "experts" in the State Department assured us, meant that Boko Haram was a "real" terrorist organization.

Then in 2012 came riots in Cairo and Benghazi, among other places in the Muslim world. These were not caused by vicious, anti-American religious extremists, the experts assured us -- that would have violated the State Department ethos of appeasing others and blaming ourselves -- but by a YouTube video. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eventually went so far as to disavow the content of the video on behalf of the American people.

Just as the apology machine began to run at full speed, blaming the obscure filmmaker and absolving the mob of its permanent willingness to attack the United States for any reason, along came the attack that killed the American ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.

The self-deluding national security machine lied to the entire country and denied what really happened at Benghazi. The driving force in the lies was the Clinton State Department, which specifically asked for the intelligence community analysis to be changed.

Bergdahl's captivity: Fact vs. fiction
Fmr. Navy SEAL: 'This was choreographed'
What if the handoff had gone awry?
The days before Bergdahl's capture

Now we have the most disastrous of the three "B's": Bergdahl.

While we can be glad an American soldier has been returned from captivity, the release of five senior enemy commanders is a defeat of the first order. Taliban leader Mullah Omar declared the swap a great victory. The Taliban got everything it asked for. This swap was a surrender, not a negotiation.

It's likely that the five Taliban leaders will all go into action immediately. The notion that their presence in Qatar restricts them is just one more example of self-delusion and dishonesty by the State Department. Both the Treasury and the State Department have identified Qatar as a hot bed of fundraising for radical Islamists. The Qataris have consistently meddled in Middle Eastern countries on the side of radicals and against the U.S.

The return of the senior Taliban commanders is as big a defeat as America has suffered in a very long time.

Who knows how many will die when these five leaders resume their war against the West?

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama released the five Taliban leaders without ever consulting his Afghan "allies," who must feel very threatened between the previous week's announcement by the president of an arbitrary American withdrawal date and now the unilateral release of five of their mortal enemies.

The Left's selfishness, self-centeredness and duplicity abandons allies when they become "inconvenient."

Obama's foreign policy successes seem to come at enormous cost to other people.

These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities. These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Guantanamo detainees swapped Guantanamo detainees swapped

The president's argument that we simply had to cut a deal for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because of his health goes against the American experience in every recent war. In Vietnam, many American prisoners of war were held longer than Bergdahl and 114 died in captivity. In the Korean War, more than 7,100 Americans became prisoners of war and just over 2,700 are known to have died in captivity.

The six soldiers at center of Bergdahl debate

What President Obama really did this week is to guarantee a much lower military interest in risking life and limb to take high-value prisoners alive given that there is now a possibility that they will released in the future. Instead, missions will be more focused on killing than capturing these targets.

Hillary Clinton wanted tougher deal for Bergdahl, former officials say

The Obama team clearly believed that chanting "We Don't Leave Americans Behind" would be a winning argument. Every spokesperson for the administration repeated the line. Susan Rice, now national security adviser, replayed her post-Benghazi role of going on Sunday shows and either misleading or lying to the American people, claiming that this was "a joyous day."

One final example of the Left's passion for self-delusion and dishonesty.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserted that we never negotiated with the Taliban. Other administration figures took up that claim.

Opinion: Five tough ethics issues in Bergdahl swap

It is so pathetic a lie it is hard to understand how he could say it with a straight face.

The claim is that the Qataris talked to the Taliban.

In this case, of course, the Qataris were our agents and were negotiating for us. But we are asked to indulge the deceit.

The State Department may be the second-most urgent reform target after Veterans Affairs. Congress should link together the three "B's" and understand that we are faced with delusion across our national security apparatus.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT